Review: The Commuter

Score: B

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

There may come a day when I tire of seeing 65-year-old Liam Neeson try to run and stop some bad guys, but that day is not here yet. It’s been nearly a decade since the Irish actor starred in Taken, kicking off one of the most entertaining second acts in history. While he’s had highs (Silence) and lows (Battleship) since then, he’s been reliable for at least one solid action movie a year.

The Commuter is his fourth collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra, following Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night. The Spanish director has become one of the finest purveyors of B-movies. No one would seriously consider any of his movies classics, but they’re almost all entertaining diversions, which is often the best you can hope for in the early months of a given year.

If you’ve seen any of these, you know what to expect: Liam Neeson is placed in a highly ridiculous situation with lives at stake, including his family. (“Give me back my child!” should be his quote on the statue we should erect one day.)

The script was re-written by Ryan Engle, who did the same on Non-Stop, and the similarities are striking. They’re essentially the same movie, only on different modes of transportation. Instead of a terrorist with a bomb, Neeson (as lowly insurance salesman Michael MacCauley) must find a murder witness with a hard drive. Both films are filled with red herrings, physics-defying stunts and at least one dead federal agent. This one tries to add some global conspiracy and righteous indignation at Wall Street, but those just feel like clunky add-ons to a tried-and-true “Die Hard on a whatever” story.

It may soon be time for Neeson to get back to supporting roles in quality dramas. Seeing him barrel roll out of the way of an oncoming train and jumping onto a moving train is laughable at this point, but never less than entertaining. The Commuter isn’t nearly the movie that Source Code was, but its ambitions are much lower. For an early-year dumb-fun thriller, The Commuter is the one to catch.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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